By Brian Lowe, 13/9/15
Photo credit: Carolyn Ritchie
Canada has set itself the goal of retaining the Colonial Cup when this year’s series against the USA tees off next weekend.
“As the Colonial Cup holders, we are coming into this series with the goal of returning the Cup to Canada for the second straight year,” said Wolverines team manager Paul Buchanan.
“We are confident in the players we have picked, our preparation has been good and the players are well aware of the rivalry and tradition of the Colonial Cup and Canada v USA.”
The Canadian roster for the series opener in Philadelphia on Sunday, September 20 is largely an Ontario-based side and a number of the players selected are likely to be part of the Wolverines’ 2017 Rugby League World Cup Americas Region Qualifying series in December in Florida.
Two players from British Columbia, Trent Bourke and Joey Murphy, break up the Ontario dominance. They are just back from a season in Australia. Injuries and other commitments mean five top line players are not in the squad, notably Tom Clancy and Billy Skidgmore.
“There are a number of other players that are being looked at for the RLWCQ roster with Wolverines head coach Aaron Zimmerle looking at video footage in preparation for his arrival in Canada ahead of the qualifiers,” added Buchanan.
“Jamie Lester is leading the Wolverines in the first two games of the Colonial Cup and Andy Blackburn is working with some great talent from BC and Alberta that played against the touring New South Wales Tertiary Student Rugby League and England Young Lions in July and in last weekend’s second annual provincial clash between the Alberta Broncos and BC Bulldogs.”
Matt Wyles will again captain the team. Wyles has been the skipper since 2012.
Based on results, there is plenty of evidence that Canada has been steadily improving since its re-emergence to international rugby league in 2010. One needs look no further than the Wolverines’ 52-14 victory over the US in last year’s one-off Colonial Cup match for proof of that.
“The US can expect to see a confident side that will not take a backward step,” continued Buchanan. “We have a great mix of fresh faces and exciting talent in the squad with a core group of experienced players.”
Interim coach Lester is wary of the challenge that lies ahead.
“I am confident of what our players can achieve, but at the same time I know it’s going to be a huge challenge taking on USA,” he noted.
“They are ranked 10th in the world, made the quarterfinals of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and are always tough opposition, especially at home.”
Canada Wolverines Squad:
1 Alan Lafferty (Brantford Broncos), 2 Billy Gemmell (Brantford Broncos), 3 Christian Miller (Brantford Broncos), 4 Erick Alvarado (Brantford Broncos), 5 Steve Piatek (Brantford Broncos), 6 Denny McCarthy (Oakville Crusaders), 7 Antoine Blanc (Toronto City Saints), 8 Eddie Bilborough (Toronto City Saints), 9 Enoch Wamalwa (Toronto City Saints), 10 Jason Locke (Toronto Centurions), 11 John Cregg (Toronto Centurions), 12 JT Rowbotham (Toronto Centurions), 13 Matt Wyles (Toronto Centurions) (Capt)
14 Max Smillie (Toronto Centurions), 15 Robin Legault (Toronto Centurions), 16 Trent Bourke (Abbotsford Griffins), 17 Joey Murphy (Surrey Beavers)
18th man Eric Moyer (Brantford Broncos)